DSIT becomes first department to sign up to STEM skills-building scheme

STEM Futures "will ensure central government has direct experience and expertise from the front lines of science and technology"
STEM Futures provides opportunities in fields such as science and systems thinking. Image: Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has signed up to a government science and engineering profession-run network designed to boost civil servants’ skills and experience in STEM.

DSIT is the first government department to sign up to STEM Futures, which provides officials with opportunities for exchange, shadowing, placements and mentoring in science, technology, engineering and maths fields by connecting them with relevant experts.

The new scheme, established by the Government, Science and Engineering profession earlier this year, is part of a push to build civil servants’ knowledge and competence in STEM. It provides access to a network of technology companies, research institutes and universities as well as other public sector organisations, and frameworks for knowledge exchange and work placements.

As well as providing civil servants with professional development and networking opportunities, the scheme cuts down on administration needed for departments to set up secondments and other exchanges. Through this, it aims to help public sector organisations fill skills gaps and improve recruitment and retention.

Science and technology secretary Michelle Donelan said signing up to the scheme is “another milestone in DSIT’s mission to build the world’s most innovative economy here in the UK, building on the UK’s unique leading role in science and technology”.

“STEM Futures, alongside our own Expert Exchange programme, will ensure central government has the direct experience and expertise from the front lines of science and technology it needs to truly understand the issues facing sci-tech leaders, and arm civil servants with the skills they need to shape practical policies that will work for industry, academia, and the wider public,” she added.

The Expert Exchange provides secondments for experts from industry and academia and, according to the department, is “overhauling the way DSIT works with the science and technology sectors, developing a whole suite of ways to share knowledge between government, industry and academia, in a way that benefits all parties”. These could include visits to stakeholders, shadowing opportunities and fellowships, it said.

The department said STEM Futures is the “ideal complement to DSIT’s ongoing work to bring cutting-edge expertise into the heart of government”, thanks to its focus on long-term skills development and career progression.

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